When we think of patient engagement, we immediately envision efforts to engage the patient clinically to improve outcomes and financially to ensure payments. However, the administrative side of patient engagement is a third critical effort to engage patients meaningfully.
The less challenging the administrative interactions are for a patient, the more highly satisfied they will be with their overall care. Practices must enable a more consumer-centric approach on their patients’ behalf—an approach that encourages communication in the way that individual patients want to be reached—to best achieve administrative patient engagement.
Here are 5 tips for your Administrative Patient Engagement Strategy to improve the overall patient experience.
1. Go mobile
Easy access to our healthcare system through mobile technology platforms will transform the consumer experience and drive changes in consumer behavior, including which providers consumers choose. This approach, therefore, requires extending beyond the focus of developing attentive staff and websites that facilitate communication to build a truly mobile experience. Plainly stated: any great patient engagement strategy will coalesce around the practice’s mobile strategy.
2. Patient portal
The patient portal is the first line of defense for a strong administrative engagement strategy. And while the patient portal has become near-ubiquitous, usage is still low. Practices need to ensure that “adoption” is not the gold standard metric, and they instead need to look more closely at how to increase usage among active patients, including bringing the portal mobile. The portal must additionally offer more than secure messaging and, in many cases, should incorporate the remaining administrative patient engagement tips.
3. Online appointment scheduling
Online appointment scheduling reduces hassle not only for the consumer, but also for the practice, reducing wait and phone times for everyone. It simultaneously cultivates a feeling of patient-centeredness by giving patients more transparency into schedule availability. With the ability to select the most convenient time and likewise reschedule if necessary, online scheduling reduces the no-show rates providing some relief to an issue affecting practice profitability. By integrating online scheduling in lieu of phone-only scheduling, practices are helping to connect patients to care in the way that is most convenient to them.
4. Deploy text messages for key communications
Text messages represent a preferred method of communication for the millennial generation in particular. Unlike many emails, texts are quick to read and their very arrival captures immediate attention. Appointment reminders sent via text messages eliminate staff time spent on reminder calls, but moreover provide the patient with a quick and easy means to confirm or cancel their appointment. With text messages, it is no longer necessary to sit through a long, automated recording with number prompts, or to follow up with a return call to similarly confirm an appointment. Likewise, bill pay reminders sent via text are inexpensive and direct the patient to where they can expeditiously pay their bill online.
5. Online Prescription Refill Requests
Prescription refill requests represent yet another administrative hurdle for the patient; however, it is one that can easily be curtailed by offering prescription refill requests online. The patient can make refill requests at their convenience achieving both time efficiency and privacy even in public places, such as their places of work. Trained nursing staff likewise can spend more time attending to patients in the practice by setting aside time throughout the day to review and sign off on requests.
In summary, minimizing administrative challenges that slow or prevent a patient from engaging in their care will provide clear benefits to outcomes. When a patient can more easily schedule an appointment or message with the practice on their own terms, the patient is more likely to seek the care they need. And fortunately, this win for the patient is also a win for the practice. Improving administrative patient engagement encourages patient loyalty, increases patient visits, increases patient satisfaction and improves the efficiency of practice operations—a win for all.